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Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Before Your Flight

Seren Morgan-Roberts

Beginning the Game

As you open this game for the first time, you will be greeted by Nook Inc. Representatives, Timmy and Tommy. It is in this first section of the game that you will determine your character’s name, birthday and appearance. If you have played any Animal Crossing games in the past, you might remember that appearance was determined by your answers to a series of questions. You could also only customize your hair (later in the game), and your face remained the same. In New Horizons, however, you’ll be able to customize your appearance from the beginning, as well as change up your look and gender at any time, when in front of a mirror.

Picking a Name

First up, you’ll be asked to choose a name. You will not be able to change this after you’ve confirmed it, so make sure it is something you like and that isn’t offensive.

You will likely play with other real people, so make sure not to choose a bad name!


Next up, you’ll be asked to choose a birthday! Birthdays in Animal Crossing are wonderful, as your residents will throw you a party and send you gifts. You can choose your own birthday, or make a new one up for yourself!

Happy Birthday to you!

Customising Your Appearance

As mentioned above, don’t worry too much about your appearance right now, since you’ll have plenty of time later on to change up your hair, face and gender!

(1 of 2) You can customise hair, skin colour and even cheek rosiness

You can customise hair, skin colour and even cheek rosiness (left), here you can see that the final character is very different from the default. (right)

Choosing Your Island

After you’ve created your character, you’ll go on to choose certain aspects of your island!

Choosing a Hemisphere

Next, Timmy and Tommy will ask what area you live in. It will be a broad location, like Europe or North America for example. They will ask you this so that they can recommend a hemisphere for you. They recommend that you choose your real location’s hemisphere. So if you’re from North America, you’re in the Northern Hemisphere.

Hemispheres are important because they determine your seasons. Essentially, all of the seasons are reversed, Summer for Winter, Autumn for Spring, etc.

Whilst Timmy and Tommy will recommend to choose your own real life hemisphere, it is not mandatory. They recommend it because there are set seasons in Animal Crossing, and it may be more immersive to play during your own seasons.

(1 of 2) It would be advised you choose your own hemisphere

It would be advised you choose your own hemisphere (left), but you can always choose the other one to experience the opposite seasons! (right)

Choosing an Island Layout

This is the fun part! Next, you’ll choose your island layout. There are a lot of different island variations, but you’ll have the option to choose from four. You’ll likely find one you like, but if you really hate every island, consider closing the game and restarting. You won’t have any save data yet, so you can just close the software and reopen it.

So, there are lots of different types of islands, but they’ll all consist of the same general features:

  • River that joins the sea at two points.
  • A couple of lakes.
  • A river source point (or two!)
  • A secret northern beach inlet.
  • Three different terrain levels.

So what to look for in a good island layout?

Of course, the choice is entirely yours, and later on, you’ll be able to terraform to your heart’s desire. But there are some unchangable aspects to consider when choosing your island. For example, the rocks on the beaches cannot be changed. Some people will have lots of large, flat rocks that you can walk onto and even decorate. Whilst others may have mostly small, craggy rocks that you can’t really do much with.

You’ll also want to consider the location of the estuaries (the river-sea meeting points). You won’t be able to change where the rivers meet the sea, so you’ll want to really think about which one will work for your future terraforming plans! You can change up your rivers as much as you want, but your estuaries will always stay the same, so choose wisely!

The location of Nook’s Plaza (the leaf symbol on the island maps) is also something you really want to take your time considering, as well. This is one of the things that people are most frustrated that you cannot change (currently). A lot of people like Nook’s Plaza to be centered with their airport (represented by the square-ish grey rocks on the southern beach). However, distance between the airport and the plaza is probably the most important thing to take into account. This is because, later into the game, you’ll want a gorgeously decorated entrance to impress friends and strangers alike! A plaza too close will mean there’s no space between the airport and the main building of your island. It will likely annoy you later on if you choose an island with bad plaza and airport positioning.

So here are some example islands to choose from:

You will likely have entirely different options from this image, but they serve as an example of the island variations available.

The third option (bottom left) looks like a bad island due to how close the airport and base are, even though its little island within an island is quite cute. The same criticism can also be said of the first island option.

The fourth option (bottom right) is a good choice because it has great beaches. The positioning of the airport and the plaza seem like a good distance from each other and the base seems to be directly above the airport, which will make for a nice entrance that heads straight for the island’s hub. That being said, the second (top right) option is also a good island base because there’s lots of distance between the plaza and airport, and the beaches are really rocky!

After careful deliberation, option four is the chosen Island Paradise!

The Final Question

After you have chosen your new island, you’ll be asked a serious question by Timmy and Tommy. They will ask you what one thing you would bring to an island. Those of you who have played an Animal Crossing game before might be sweating at which option to choose. In the past, seemingly simple questions have determined your character’s appearance. But fret not, this question is simply hypothetical. You can choose whatever answer you like, it will not alter your gameplay at all.

After you have answered the final question, you’ll be whisked away to your getaway island!

Island Paradise here we come!

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Guide Information
  • Publisher
  • Platforms,
  • Genre
    Social simulation
  • Guide Release
    7 August 2020
  • Last Updated
    20 January 2022
    Version History
  • Guide Author
    Seren Morgan-Roberts

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The guide for Animal Crossing: New Horizons offers a walkthrough on how to make the most of your time on your deserted island. This guide will show you how to make tools, earn bells, achieve a five-star island, and more.

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